This year the ‘Trials’ will be held on July 14. Married couples, from anywhere in the world, who have been married for more than a year-and-a-day will try to convince a jury, of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors, that they still love each other and that they have ‘not wisht themselves unmarried again’. If the jury decides that any of the couples are still in love, and have always been, they are awarded a Flitch of Bacon and carried aloft by husky locals to the market square, where they will kneel on pointed stones and take the ‘Flitch Oath.”
A Flitch of Bacon is half a pig cut lengthways. If the jury decides that a couple do not deserve the Flitch, they are awarded a small ham. Every couple entered could win the Flitch, some years nobody wins, so its ham all round.
The Dunmow Flitch Trials have been held since 1104, with gaps for persecutions and wars. The winners have been recorded since 1445. The father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, writing in the late 1300s, alludes to the Dunmow Flitch Trials in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” in his best known work “Canterbury Tales.”
The last winners of the Flitch were Jeff Dotts and Erin Albers from Nashville. It was reported that there were no riots in Nashville in celebration of their great victory. Not sure if they were allowed by the USDA to bring the bacon back to Tennessee.
“You do swear by custom of confession
That you ne’er made nuptual transgression
Nor since you were married man and wife
By household brawls or contentious strife
Or otherwise in bed or at board
Offended each other in deed or in word
Or in a twelve months time and a day
Repented not in thought in any way
Or since the church clerk said amen
Wish’t yourselves unmarried again
But continue true and desire
As when you joined hands in holy quire.”